It will soon be mandatory for cyclists in Newfoundland and Labrador to wear a helmet.
The provincial government announced Tuesday it will amend the Highway Traffic Act so all cyclists, regardless of age, will have to wear a lid as of April 1.
Fines will range from $25 to $180, and parents of children under 16 will be responsible if they knowingly allow their children to cycle without a helmet.
The new law is being applauded by the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA).
"Newfoundland and Labrador has one of the highest rates of bicycle-related injuries and hospitalizations in the country," said Dr. Sandra Luscombe, a developmental pediatrician and past-president of the NLMA.
"We believe that this legislation will serve to protect cyclists and significantly reduce the risk of life-threatening and debilitating injuries, especially in children.”
The Newfoundland and Labrador Brain Injury Association (NLBIA) has been working to increase bicycle helmet use among the province’s school-aged children with its “Wear a Helmet. Save a Brain” campaign.
Dr. Michelle Ploughman, a neuroscientist and NLBIA board member, said prevention is the best strategy to protect against brain injury.
"A helmet absorbs the force of an impact to the head and shields the brain from injury. Brain injury happens in seconds, but the effects last a lifetime. We see first-hand the effects of brain injury on thinking, memory, movement and personality.”
Service NL Minister Tony Cornect said research shows there are significant reductions in bicycle-related head injuries in provinces where there is mandatory bicycle helmet legislation versus provinces and territories without such legislation.
He said the law will reduce serious head and brain injuries and costs to the health care system.
Seniors, Wellness and Social Development Minister Clyde Jackman said cycling is an excellent way to keep fit, but safety is equally as important.
The new legislation will exist side-by-side with any municipal bylaws.